A few days ago, I was lucky enough to come across a lovely head of Romanensco at a local market. An Italian vegetable by origin, it seems someone has an eye for its sculptural and slightly futuristic beauty, or perhaps it’s subtly nutty flavour, here in France.
Apparently Romanesco, a member of the Brassica family of vegetables, which also includes broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage, was developed through selective cultivation in 16th century Italy. Appearance wise, it may well be the most stunning vegetable you ever meet. Its strong geometric form and lime-green colouring must have appeared as otherworldly 500 years ago, as it does today.
The Romanesco is made up of intricate, repetitive swirls. Each floret is comprised of countless smaller conical florets. The incredibly symmetrical fractal pattern, is described by mathematicians as logarithmic, by Creationists as evidence of “God’s great work” despite it being recorded historically as a cultivated variety, and by gardeners and chefs alike quite simply, as beautiful.
As well as being gorgeous to look at Romanesco is packed with nutrients, and easy to prepare. You can eat it raw, with hummus, or steam it for a few minutes as I did. It’s got a sweet creamy and slightly flavour. This recipe with a simple dressing, fresh goats cheese and sundried tomatoes, is simple, and allows the full taste of the Romanesco to shine through. I hope you like it!
(serves two as a main dish)
One head of Romanesco
10 chopped sundried tomatoes (chopped)
2 tablespoons chopped/crumbled Fromage Frais (or soft goats cheese)
Three table spoons olive oil
Juice of one lemon
Two tea spoons wholegrain mustard
Ground black pepper
Step One: Chop the Romanesco into florets and steam until al dente.
Step Two: Mix the olive oil, lemon juice, mustard and some ground black pepper in a jar. Put the lid on and give it a good shake.
Step 3: In a large bowl mix the Romanesco, sundried tomatoes, fromage frais and dressing. Serve warm, or at room temperature.